Unstoppable in recent weeks, Karim Benzema should be one of the main animators of Real Madrid-Liverpool, Tuesday evening in the quarter-final first leg of the Champions League (9 p.m., RMC Sport 1). Because he is the Spanish club’s top scorer in the competition, but also because of all the strikers still in the running, he is the one who hits the most on goal.
His XXL match against Atalanta in the knockout stages of the Champions League (3-1), where his delicious shifts, his many high-intensity races and his inspirations were rewarded “only” by a goal, recalled that Karim Benzema is not the archetype of the statistics player. But here are all the same a few seasons that the French striker of Real Madrid, fourth top scorer in the history of the C1 (70 goals), shows himself more and more decisive, in the last gesture or the penultimate one.
Watch this season. While Real have scored 51 La Liga goals, 18 have been scored by KB9, or 35%. And it’s the same in the Champions League: of the 15 Madrid goals, 5 are the work of the French (33%), who has also missed two games out of eight.
In other words: Benzema has become Real Madrid’s chief finisher, which is not illogical given his position. But he also became one of the biggest “gunners” in the competition. With an average of 4.1 shots attempted for 90 minutes of play, the former Lyonnais is simply number 1 in this exercise, among all the attackers still in contention in C1. And obviously, the more we try, the more chances we have to score …
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The new offensive leader is him
How to explain this “assertion”? There is the confidence, probably, of a player who has dominated his subject for months and months. There is also his development: at 33, Benzema has clearly reached his technical and footballing maturity. He feels the game like never before, and knows what to do in such and such a situation. “The whole team understands Karim, and Karim understands all his partners, greeted Zinédine Zidane on Monday. There is a real chemistry between them.” And then there’s the context, and the players surrounding it. For a long time, KB9 has been associated with Real with a certain Cristiano Ronaldo, a real devourer of balloons. This is no longer the case today.
Between the 2013-2014 season and the 2017-2018 season, the last five with the Portuguese, Benzema shot an average of 2.9 times for 90 minutes of play in the Champions League (with a peak at 4 shots / 90 minutes in 2015- 2016). Since CR7 left, Benzema has gone to 3.2 shots for 90 minutes of play in 2018-2019, to 4.3 in 2019-2020, and therefore to 4.1 this year. The Frenchman has become the offensive leader, the one who must make the difference, and who tries. And no one at Real will dare to blame him.
The observation is also valid in terms of chances created for 90 minutes of play. With 2.8 chances on average in the Champions League, Karim Benzema is also number 1 in this field this season – among the players in contention. In 2019-2020, he was on 2.4 occasions. While between 2013-2014 and 2017-2018, its average was 1.8. Liverpool’s defense is warned.